How To Travel By Bus In India 0

6th Nov 19
Harshal, Indian Travel Blogger

What would be the easiest way for you to go from one point to another while traveling in India? Is it a plane? Yes but very expensive. Is it a train? Yes but a lot of hassles while booking tickets! Is it a rickshaw? You can’t possibly be thinking of traveling from Mumbai to Delhi by rickshaw, are you? So the only mode of convenient transportation that is left is the ultimate - Bus services in India. Yes, you may come across a bit of a problem while traveling across India by bus but there is no such thing as a trouble-free journey. Buses in India are far cheaper as compared to trains or planes or cabs for that matter. Their convenience depends upon where you are heading and what kind of bus you choose to travel. It isn’t right comparing a bus experience in Mumbai and the one on the Himalayan roads.

So here is a simple guide telling you how to choose, book and travel by using the bus services available throughout the country :

Types of Buses

Bus services in India do not follow the ‘Class’ pattern as that used in Railways or Airways. They are broadly classified into two types - Public and Private.

State owned public Bus in Rajasthan

(Image Courtesy)

  • Public bus services include state-owned fuel-guzzling matchbox type buses used extensively in the country. These buses charge the cheapest fare of them all. Similarly to a general coach in the railways, these buses are jam-packed all year round and you would hardly be able to get a seat for yourself.

  • Your luggage would be saddled in the space either on the top of the bus or under it. Extremely strong, they are meant for long journeys and usually cater to the rural areas sometimes covering an entire district or even state. If the amount of inconvenience or the relentless struggles are overlooked, these buses make sure you reach your destination of time.

Private Buses in India

(Image Courtesy)

  • Private bus services are buses owned by private organizations and agencies. They are usually hygienic and in better shape and condition as compared to the state-owned buses.

  • These buses are generally need booking which can be easily done with the help of mobile-based apps like Redbus or by directly booking with a bus agency. These buses are often scheduled and seating is based upon the type of your journey, your fare and the type of bus chosen.

  • Buses come in types such as sleeper, non-sleeper, AC, Non-AC and reclining seats. Unlike the state-owned versions, the private agencies offer the aforementioned options. They are also classified into deluxe, semi-deluxe and super-deluxe

  • A sleeper usually has single compartments where you may sleep until you reach your destination. These buses are generally used for long-distance journeys which take one or more than one day to reach.

  • A non-sleeper bus usually has two-rowed comfortable seating which can either be air-conditioned or normal.

  • Recliner seats are available in ‘Super-Deluxe’ type of buses which are optional to sleeper compartment type buses

  • Fares depend upon the type of bus and the distance of your journey

Booking Tickets and Getting a reservation

  • The reservation system hardly exists in the bus transportation system. Reservation isn’t available for local buses.

  • If you wish to reserve a seat in the buses of other deluxe categories you can book seats through travel agencies and online at portals such as Cleartrip, Makemytrip and apps like Redbus.

  • If you want to get tickets manually, then you have to stand in queues at the bus stations to buy the tickets.

Safety tips, precautions and what to expect while traveling in a bus

Bus interior

  • Though a bus journey might be convenient and cheaper, the roads make it quite difficult to keep things smooth. Except for expressways and highways, other roads in India are uneven, poorly constructed and have a large number of potholes in them. Even in major metropolitan cities like Mumbai, potholes are a severe problem.

Potholes on India roads

  • Avoid sitting or standing directly above the rear wheels of the bus if you do not want to endure a bumpy ride. Even while traveling on mountainous roads follow the instructions of the conductor or driver when they tell you to get down. Since the buses are at risk of tipping over or crashing, half the passengers have to get down from the bus until the particular passage of road is crossed

  • Make sure you carry a small purse or handbag with you at all times to keep your valuables, important documents, and money safe. Do not place them with your other luggage as there is a risk of it getting misplaced.

  • Make sure your bag is stuffed below the bus in the luggage cabinet safely. If you are opting to place your luggage on the rooftop, it is important to make sure it is well-strapped so that it doesn’t fall off.

  • Do not accept any food or drink from strangers (men or women). These items may be spiked with local LSD which may make you unconscious and make you vulnerable to theft or other unwanted scenarios.

  • Keep yourself updated with your location by either using the GPS or confirming with the conductor or driver.


  • While traveling on local buses, do not leave your seat at any cost. You will lose it in a jiff and no matter what you say or do, the new occupant may not oblige. It is better to avoid any problem while traveling.

  • Dress modestly and cover yourself up as much as possible. People are going to stare at you out of curiosity. Do not entertain them beyond that point.

  • If you suffer from travel sickness, carry relevant medicine and plastic or paper bags in case you feel like vomiting.

  • Always carry a small lock with you. If you choose to keep the luggage with yourself under your seat, make sure it is locked with a small chain to your seat to avoid theft.

So there you go! A simple and complete guide on how to travel by bus in India.

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